Author Sherry James is known for her contemporary tales of love and passion, but with her new release, The Cowboy and the Hellcat, the author embarks on her first historical series. Now get an insider look at this tale that whisks readers to Christmastime in Nebraska during 1876 for a whirlwind romance between two people who never thought that love would be in their future. And don't miss the *Web Exclusive Review* of this holiday western novella after this interview!
RT BOOK REVIEWS: In The Cowboy and the Hellcat Adam has recently suffered the loss of his father and Ellie is soon to lose hers as well. What inspired you to write a holiday romance laced with such sadness?
Sherry James: Unfortunately, life experience. Like Adam, I lost my father in the month of November. But unlike Adam’s father, my dad had been ill for some time before his passing. Even though I knew my dad would never recover from his illness, losing him was heart wrenching. As for Ellie, she’s about to face the trials of her father’s illness, too. Again, I understand what an emotional roller coaster ride that is. It was so, so tough to watch my big, strong, amazing father become a shell of his former self. And within months of losing my dad, my mom became terminally ill. Within less than a year I lost her, too. Those were the toughest times of my life. So, what Adam goes through on the early pages of The Cowboy and the Hellcat comes from my heart and what I felt during that difficult time. Writing, and the love and support of my husband, helped me keep my sanity through it all, though. And thankfully, for Ellie, Adam will be there to help her through it, too.
But The Cowboy and the Hellcat isn’t all sad. It has a lot of fun moments, too. Ellie is a spunky, resilient heroine who manages to keep everyone on their toes.
RT: Can you share a detail that you know about hero Adam that did not make it into the story?
SJ: Well, Adam’s conflict with his father could have easily been developed into a much bigger book. They didn’t always see eye-to-eye. They are, after all, two determined and strong willed Ford men! It would have been fun to strengthen that conflict and put Adam on a personal quest to hunt down his father’s killer out of revenge, when in reality he’s seeking closure for the unresolved issues between them. But I simply didn’t have the page space to go into that complex of a story.
RT: Adam initially keeps a big secret from Ellie. What is one secret that Ellie keeps from Adam?
SJ: Now, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. ;-)
RT: This novella kicks off your new series The Cowboys of the Four Aces. What is your favorite feature of the Four Aces ranch?
SJ: It’s home to the Fords, a family of strong, loyal and determined cowboys who prize the bonds of brotherhood. They might fight and scrap with each other, but they’ll defend each other to the death. And, that the ranch is located in the sand hills of Nebraska. It’s beautiful country! When you look out over those gently rolling hills of prairie grass with no modern civilization to impede the view, it’s easy to forget it’s the 21st Century. It’s kind of like stepping back in time.
RT: Additionally, The Cowboy and the Hellcat is also your first historical novel, what was the most unexpected part of writing in a different time period?
SJ: Well, this is my first published historical, but not the first one I’ve written. In fact, when I began writing romances way back, I started out writing historicals and have since written five. Some of which are tucked away to solely serve as reminders of how far I’ve come. Which makes me think. I should lock those manuscripts in a strong box with a note attached that says, “destroy upon my death”! Even after I’m gone I don’t want to be embarrassed by my efforts of learning the craft. But seriously, I’ve always enjoyed history and doing research, and I have written a lot of Nebraska history articles for various publications. So, writing in the period of 1870’s Nebraska is a natural for me.
RT: Adam is initially uninterested in marrying a "hellcat" like Ellie, who has earned her nickname for her modern sensibilities, such as wanting to wear jeans and run a ranch. What is your favorite "hellcat" moment with this historical heroine?
SJ: That’s easy! When Ellie and Adam meet out by the corral the night of Christmas ball. She‘s determined to put an end to this arranged marriage, but much to her frustration, and secretly, her delight, they share a heated kiss. In true Hellcat form she puts her knee where it hurts Adam the most. Not only are they engaged in a fiery match of wills with each other, but with themselves as they struggle to come to terms with the attraction they have for each other.
RT: Ellie hates all the conventions of acting ladylike but to please her mother, she does her best. Have you ever done something similar in an attempt to please a parent?
SJ: Boy, not that I can remember. I was always pretty well behaved, I knew better than to act out, so it was never an issue. Course, I was super shy, too. Because of that shyness I really wasn’t ever rebellious. I swear. It’s true! But then, maybe it could be I’ve conveniently forgotten such moments. ;-)
RT: What do you think are the three most appealing things about a cowboy hero?
SJ: Shoot. I have to limit it to three?! Well, first off, he‘s honest, a man of his word. He means what he says, and does what he says he‘s going to do. Second, he‘s caring. He might not show it, and he might even have a hard time acknowledging the fact to himself. But beneath that tough exterior is a man who feels deeply and puts his family and his horse first. And third, he’s loyal to the bone. He’s a man who doesn’t give his trust and friendship easily, but when he does, he’ll have your back for life.
RT: Can you share a detail for our readers to watch for in the next love story about a Four Aces ranch cowboy?
Sherry James: Actually, right now I don’t know too much. I’m in the middle of several other book projects that need to be completed first, but I can tell you it will be Jesse Ford’s story. And if you read The Cowboy and the Hellcat, you’ll figure out who the heroine is going to be pretty quick. Keep an eye on my web site, www.sherryjames.com. I’ll post more info there as it becomes available.